*Disclaimer: these views and opinions are all my own, and what worked best for MY child. Everyone parents differently, I am just sharing my own personal experience.*
Motherhood. The place where everything is up for debate and discussion- whether you like it or not.
You go to a toddler group for the first time and the usual questions come up, “How old is your child? Natural birth or c-section? Overdue, on time or early? What pain relief did you have? Planned or unplanned pregnancy? How long were you in labour for? What did they weigh when they were born? What centile were they born on? What centile are they now? Breastfed or formula fed? Are they sleeping through yet?
All of the above, and more, is a typical conversation when you meet another mum, and to be perfectly honest, that’s kind of the reason I don’t go to toddler groups. One of the biggest issues for me was the debate of ‘sleep training’.
Sleep Training the process of training young children to fall asleep on their own, typically by means of techniques in which the child is left to cry without being comforted, either for gradually increasing periods of time or until they fall asleep. (definition found via google search).
So, there are a lot of different methods when it comes to sleep training, one mum will swear by the CIO (cry it out) method, whilst others favour controlled crying. Other mums use the slow retreat then there are some who use the pick-up, put-down method. For me I have given a few of these a go, but not in a militant way where I stick to a certain method for a week or two until the baby has finally ‘cracked it’. I chose to try and think how my baby was thinking and make the decision as to what method needed to be used.
Aria didn’t sleep through the night until she was nearly 15 months old(!), but we just dealt with it. I was of the opinion that she would do it when she was ready and that as she was a baby, her crying was a way of communicating to me. Now some mums may think I am a mug and that Aria was the one ‘ruling the roost’ but she wasn’t. She was simply communicating in the only way she knew how without words, to cry.
When I was in the thick of it, I would write posts on mum groups asking for advice, and of course a sleep coach would pop up and say they would help me out, for the small sum of £600!? I’m sorry? Someone wants £600 to teach me how to get my child to fall asleep? Well, I am proof that you DON’T need to spend that obscene amount of money to get your kids to sleep, because eventually they work it out and now Aria sleeps like a little angel! Okay yes, my method probably took a lot longer (we can’t know that for sure though) but myself and Ryan as a couple, worked out the best way to get Aria to sleep, and we trust it and it works.
I personally cannot get on board with certain sleep training methods. The thought of using the CIO method makes me want to cry myself! A lot of parents who use this method, talk about how you are teaching the baby to soothe themselves, and not rely on you. Well I beg to differ, I truly believe that all that baby is doing, is wearing themselves out to the point they have no more energy left in them to cry. There was one seriously painful night when I had just had enough. I was so sleep deprived and was fed up of not having an evening to myself, so I walked out of that room and just let her cry. She cried, and cried, and cried. She worked herself up into such a state that she started gagging, as if she was going to be sick! As I was listening to her cry I was sitting outside her door and sobbing myself. After what felt like 15 minutes, but was more than likely no longer than 3, I went in there, tears streaming down my face and scooped her up into my arms, and from that point on I vowed to never do it again. She was a baby that I had lovingly chose to bring into this world, and I was going to continue to do just that, love her in the way that I thought was best for her.
Over the coming months things were still tough. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to how often Aria would wake up and how long she would go between each wake up. At about 10 months on we realised that Aria as suffering with server constipation, so that shed some light on the situation as to why she would wake up so often, but still it was hard to deal with.
We kept on and on, doing what we thought best, comforting her when we felt she needed it, and ignoring little whingey cries that were more than likely made due to be overtired. And do you know what? it finally worked. We went at a pace that she was comfortable with, we showed her that when she really needed us we would be there, and I believe that because of that, she no longer felt the need to cry for us, because she knew that when she needed us, we would be there.
She is now nearly 18 months old and I finally feel like I have caught up on most of my missed sleep. I now trust that when I put her down for the night, I won’t hear a peep for at least 12 hours when she wakes up the next day, unless she poo’s in her sleep or has some trapped wind or is too hot/ cold.
So for any parents out there who are losing the will to live, and is arguing with their partner over who is getting more sleep than who, then just know this. Keep at it. It does get better, and your child, will eventually sleep.